Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Reading Super Powers!

Emerging readers are growing a collection of strategies to use in their reading work for determining unknown words. Instead of calling them strategies with my readers (though they do know that term, too) we call them SUPER POWERS! It is more motivating and it sets the tone of bravery with word solving (not just trying to sound it out then helplessly looking at the teacher). Here's how it works:
Each reader is presented with their very own "Reading Super Powers" strategy card inside a plastic page protector. It helps to present it in a very ceremonial way, possibly even wearing a cape! As they learn new strategies, a reminder post-it is added to their super powers card. This happens gradually over time through reading groups and in conferring. I present different strategies depending on each reader's growth.

When children read on their own, they have the super powers card close by to remind them of their strategies. If they come to an unknown word...HAVE NO FEAR! YOUR SUPER POWERS CARD IS NEAR!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Author's Celebration

One of my favorite times in the classroom is our Author's celebrations. It's the time when we celebrate all the brave work the children have been doing in writer's workshop and the growth they have made as writers. This past week we had our first Author's Celebration of the year. This is how we celebrated:

We designated a shelf in our classroom library to hold our special published books and had a shelf opening ceremony...

Each author wore a name tag during the school day to advertise their accomplishment (We got these great name tags from the Really Good Stuff catalogue)...

And we shared published books with classmates and collected autographs on the back page of the book.
It was a day of pride for my writers (Their teacher was pretty proud, too)!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Teaching Readers to Warm-Up with a Book.

Young readers benefit from previewing a book before diving in to read it. It helps them get a sense of what the story will be about and to begin to think about the words they may see in the text. I used to call this routine a "picture walk" but I've come to discover that strong readers are really doing more than just looking at the pictures when they warm up. Also, it's a good habit to preview books that don't even have consistent pictures. For these reasons, I've started calling it a "book walk" or just "warming up" with a book.

This is the chart is use with my class as I am introducing this process. I use real pictures of the actual book I used as a model (a favorite...Wishy Washy Day!):
The rest of the chart is just sentence strips of various colors. Keeping these separate helps me to build the chart gradually as I introduce the process to the class. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Organizing Technology

Laptops, iPods, iPads...OH MY! Actually, I'm very lucky to have these great technology resources in my classroom but organizing them can be a nightmare. Especially organizing them in a way that kids can take on the job of taking care of these devices. Here's a few handy tips I've discovered:

Earphones can be stored in those sturdy re-usable sandwich bags:
A pot lid rack (mine is from Target) makes a great stand for laptops and iPads.
To keep the power cords in place, clip some 1 inch butterfly clips on the shelf below and run the cord through to hold it. I tuck a power strip behind the rack for all of the plugs.

Friday, November 1, 2013

WOW words!

It happens all the time to're reading along in a book and you all of the sudden come to an AMAZING word. It might be a really long word that you have to figure out, it might be a unique word, or just a word that's fun to say. My class collects these words on our chart of WOW words!
Most of the time these words come up in our class read aloud books. When it happens, simply write them on a post it and put it on the WOW words chart. Eventually, kids start to do this with their own reading and post-it work. Readers and writers can't have enough WOW words!! Keep collecting!